Banking for a Cryptocurrency Exchange

Banking for a Cryptocurrency Exchange

In this article, I’ll look at where to form an international bank for a cryptocurrency exchange or FinTech group. That is, where to license and operate a new bank to provide FIAT to crypto exchange. Where to form a new bank for the cryptocurrency industry. Where to set up an offshore bank for the FinTech industry.

Puerto Rico is quickly becoming the center of the banking for cryptocurrency world. If you want to form a bank for the cryptocurrency industry, you have two options: 1) Puerto Rico with $550,000 in capital top-tier jurisdictions like Switzerland and Panama with $24 million or more.

So, it’s easy to see why so many new banks are setting up in Puerto Rico. This is also why the existing international banks on the island are growing incredibly quickly.

Per the  data published by the Puerto Rico Financial Institutions Commissioner’s Office indicate that bank deposits by international finance entities (IFE) category jumped by 248 percent to $3.3 billion in the fourth quarter, while total assets for these grew by 161 percent.

From Caribbean Business, “As BitMEX noted, the surge in deposits correlated with the cryptocurrency markets dramatic upswell, and Tether’s market cap grew by 215 percent during the same period.”

This growth is staggering, especially in an industry that has been contracting over the last couple of years. For example, the number of offshore banks operating from the Cayman Islands has decreased from 250 to 150 over the last 24 months. This is due to the increasing costs of compliance, higher capital requirements ($10 million, up from $1 million), difficulties finding and maintaining correspondent partners, and increased regulatory oversight.

At the same time, Puerto Rico issued 24 permits in 2017 and we expect the same number or more this year. This, combined with lower operating costs, relatively easier access to correspondent banks (because Puerto Rico is a US territory, and the fact that Puerto Rico is the only significant jurisdiction not a party to FATCA and Common Reporting Standards, are driving this significant growth.

Note that, when I say lower operating costs, I do not mean less regulation. I mean that the cost of labor and legal expertise is significantly lower in Puerto Rico than the Cayman Islands. As a US territory, it’s financial entities must comply with all US laws, anti money laundering rules, and know your customer rules.

As such, Puerto Rico is the place for a well run, well funded, compliant and professionally managed offshore bank or international financial entity. For more on compliance in Puerto Rico, see: Act 273 Compliance Requirements.

If you don’t want US oversite, then look to a lesser jurisdiction such as Dominica… but good luck getting a correspondent bank. For more information in the various offshore bank licenses, see: Top International Banking Jurisdictions in 2018.

I should also note that this article is focused on banks operating as FinTech businesses, blockchain financial entities, and cryptocurrency to FIAT facilitators. I am not talking about ICOs here. As a US territory, IFEs should avoid ICOs as they are subject to US oversite. The US government has been very hostile to ICOs of late.

As stated above, an offshore bank structured in Puerto Rico under Act 273 will pay only 4% in tax. Run the same bank from New York and you might pay 35%, even after Trump’s tax break. Move to Puerto Rico and swap that rate for a real tax break.

You’ll find that Puerto Rico doesn’t tax dividends to residents from the IFE. So, if the owners move to Puerto Rico under Act 22, they pay zero on capital gains and zero on dividends from their offshore bank. For a list of all of Puerto Rico’s tax incentives, see: A Detailed Analysis of Puerto Rico’s Tax Incentive Programs.

In order to form an offshore bank in Puerto Rico to manage cryptocurrency, you’ll start with the permit to organize. This first step can take 4 months and the average cost is $130,000. Once you have your permit to organize or preliminary license, you have the regulator’s approval to build out your business on the island. See: Here’s the process to start a bank in Puerto Rico.

Your permit to organize allows you to use the word “bank” in your materials. For example, you might issue a US compliant ICO, a Reg D offering, or raise money under the $50 million crowdfunding exemption. It’s only after you have your permit to organize that you should raise money and are allowed use the word bank in your name.  

I hope you’ve found this article on banking for a cryptocurrency exchange to be helpful. For more on forming a bank in the US territory of Puerto Rico, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you to negotiate an International Financial Entity License.

You might also like to read through my 300 page book on this topic. For the kindle version, see: Offshore Bank License Guide.

Crowdfunding a Cryptocurrency Exchange

Crowdfunding a Cryptocurrency Exchange

Cryptocurrency exchanges are now starting to raise money under the SEC’s crowdfunding rules. The US crowdfunding rules allow a cryptocurrency exchange to raise up to $50 million with various disclosures. Also, the solicitation rules for a crowdfunding campaign offer a lot more room to maneuver than a Reg D offering. In this post, I will explain how to raise money for a cryptocurrency exchange through a crowdfunding offering.

There are two types of crowdfunding permitted under the SEC rules. The first is limited to $1 million and focused and small businesses. The second allows you to raise up to $50 million and is being used by cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018.

In 2016 and 2017, cryptocurrency exchanges were self-funding through ICOs. Those days are gone and the SEC is targeting those who raised money without sufficient consumer protections and without registering their offerings with the agency.

In 2018, cryptocurrency exchanges are focusing on the $50 million crowdfunding exemption, sometimes referred to as a “mini IPO.” Here are the basic rules for a $1 million crowdfunding campaign and a $50 million crowdfunding campaign for a cryptocurrency exchange.

Section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act, the “crowdfunding exemption”

Offers of securities to the public (which includes offers made over the internet) must be registered with the SEC under the Securities Act of 1933, unless an exemption from registration is available. In 2018, basically all ICOs are considered security offerings by the SEC.

The JOBS Act added a new exemption to the Securities Act, Section 4(a)(6), commonly referred to as the $1 million crowdfunding exemption.

This small crowdfunding exemption allows you to raise up to $1 million over a 12 month period without registration. As you will see below, this exemption is meant to allow you to raise small amounts from many different investors.

The $ million exemption can be combined with any other available exemption or offering. So, you could raise a seed round of $1 million under the crowdfunding exemption and then a traditional Reg D offering of any size.

An investor is limited in the amount he or she may invest in a crowdfunding offering in any 12-month period:

  • If either the annual income or the net worth of the investor is less than $100,000, the investor is limited to the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of his or her annual income or net worth.
  • If the annual income and net worth of the investor are both greater than $100,000, the investor is limited to 10% of the lesser of his or her annual income or net worth, to a maximum of $100,000.

That is to say, anyone, no matter their net worth, is allowed to invest in these offerings. What is limited is the amount that they can invest. But, you can market to everyone, not just accredited investors.

These small crowdfunding offerings may be made by any business corporation organized in the United States or a US territory. Thus, the offering can be made by a corporation in Puerto Rico using one of this islands tax incentive programs.

Regulation A Crowdfunding or Mini IPO

Regulation A is broken into two tiers: Tier 1, for offerings of up to $20 million in a 12-month period; and Tier 2, for offerings of up to $50 million in a 12-month period. An issuer of $20 million or less can elect to proceed under either Tier 1 or Tier 2.

Tier 2 issuers are required to include audited financial statements in their offering documents and to file annual, semiannual, and current reports with the Commission on an ongoing basis.

And investor protections are more strict under the Mini IPO than the small crowdfunding exemption. Regulation A+ only allows investors to invest 10 percent of the greater of their annual income or net worth in these securities. The SEC has also implemented other strong investor protections such as background checks on the companies offering the securities, and disclosure of the company’s financial information as part of the offering.

That is to say, purchasers in Tier 2 offerings must either be accredited investors, as that term is defined in Rule 501(a) of Regulation D, or they are limited to the 10% limit above.

You are allowed to “test the waters” under Reg A. You may solicit interest in a potential offering from the general public either before or after the filing of the offering statement with the SEC, so long as your materials include the appropriate disclosures and statements.

Tier 1 issuers usually file once with the SEC after the sale. Tier 2 issuers must file annual and semiannual reports, as well as current reports and, in certain circumstances, an exit report on Form 1-Z, with the Commission.


I hope you’ve found this article on crowdfunding for a cryptocurrency exchange to be helpful. To read the SEC’s statements on these exemptions, see: Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. Get ready, these laws are hundreds of pages long!

For more information on building, licensing, and funding a cryptocurrency exchange, please contact us at or call (619) 483-1708.  We’ll be happy to assist you to build a cryptocurrency exchange.

ICOs are abandoning US investors

ICOs are abandoning US investors

FinTech companies are abandoning US investors. As the US government moves to eliminate ICOs to protect the financial status quo, companies that would issue an ICO in the US are falling in line. The vast majority of quality ICOs have moved offshore in 2018.

Issuers are now filing their initial coin offerings in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, or elsewhere. Those who want to sell to US investors, are selling to accredited investors only under Reg D.

Reg D is an SEC regulation governing private placement exemptions. Reg D allows smaller companies to raise capital through the sale of equity or debt securities without having to register their securities with the SEC. As of 2018, nearly all ICOs are considered a security under US law.

To be an accredited investor, a person must demonstrate an annual income of $200,000 single or $300,000 married for the last three years with expectation of earning the same or higher income in the future.

The purpose of the US accredited investor system is to prevent the sale of high risk securities to those who can’t afford the loss should things go badly. Considering all the scams out there, this is a worthy goal.

However, Reg D also comes with a holding period. When a US accredited investor buys into an ICO, they must hold the token for at least one year before they sell. This puts them at a great disadvantage to foreign investors who don’t have such a limitation.

What’s an ICO issuer to do? Tell everyone they must hold for a year? That won’t sell. Non-US persons will never agree to such a lock up period.

For these reasons, plus the fact that legal and compliance costs for a Reg D offering can be very high, most ICO issuers are abandoning US investors. It’s neither cost-effective nor fair to combine US and non-US investors in an ICO.

These actions by the United States have chilled the ICO market. The amount of money raised by ICO fell by 43% to $726 million in January and February of 2018 compared to November and December of 2017.

Examples of companies blocking US investors include Estonia-based iOlite, Scotland-based CaskCoin, UK-based Celsius Network and Auctus. Even US companies like portfolio platform CoinSeed are blocking US investors.

And the SEC is taking these limits on US investors very seriously. The government has initiated “dozens” of investigations of previous ICOs and is targeting anyone doing business in the United States.

As a result, foreign ICO issuers must actively screen out US investors. It’s not sufficient to have a form and check the box saying you’re not a US person. Investors must affirmatively prove that they are not living in the United States and money must be sent from an international bank account.

The takeaways from this are:

  1. Any company wanting to issue and ICO should do so offshore.
  2. Any US citizen that wants to invest in a foreign ICO should set up a foreign company.

The most popular jurisdictions for large ICOs are Caymans and Switzerland. While compliance (KYC, AML, etc.) are strict in these countries, they are the top choices for quality offerings. While expensive, these are the most respectable options for 2018.

However, you’ll find a lot of junk on the internet about issuing an offshore ICO. For more, see: The Offshore ICO Scam and Cayman Islands Corporations.

As for US citizens, some ICOs will accept your money if it’s sent from an offshore company and an offshore account. Their logic is that the foreign company is making the investment and not you, the ultimate beneficial owner.

These international ICOs won’t be marketing in the United States. So, if you want to find them, you will need to do your homework. For this reason, many ICO conferences are now being held offshore.

You can set up an offshore company for your personal savings or for your US retirement account. If you have a vested IRA or 401-K, you can move that into an offshore IRA LLC and invest in crypto. For more, see: Take your IRA offshore to invest in ICOs and Bitcoin.

I hope you’ve found this article on how ICOs are abandoning US investors to be helpful. For more information on setting up your company offshore, please contact us at or call us at (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you with all aspects of structuring your business or your investments offshore.

The Offshore ICO Scam and Cayman Islands Corporations

The Offshore ICO Scam and Cayman Islands Corporations

There’s an offshore ICO scam going on and it’s focused on Cayman Islands Corporations. If you’re planning an ICO, here’s what you need to know to avoid the offshore ICO scam and Cayman Islands Corporations.

First, note that I use the term “scam” very carefully and intentionally here. I truly believe there is an offshore ICO scam going on and it’s being perpetrated by lawyers and incorporation agents, many of them in the Cayman Islands.

Second, this article is about an offshore ICO scam that affects those issuing ICOs out of the Cayman Islands and most other offshore jurisdictions. I’ve seen this ICO scam in Belize, Nevis, Cook Islands, and in a number of offshore countries.

Third, this article is for those who are looking to fund their businesses with an “offshore” ICO. I’m not talking about ICOs in regulated jurisdictions such as the United States. Also, this scam does not generally affect ICO investors. I’m speaking only to those who wish to issue an ICO.

With all of that said, here’s the offshore ICO scam often found in the Cayman Islands:

Those hoping to issue an ICO call up a lawyer or an incorporator and say, “hey, I need an offshore corporation in the Cayman Islands to issue an ICO for my new business.”

The sales agent say, “sure, no problem. Send us $9,500 and we’ll set up your corporation.”

Buyer pays and gets his or her Cayman Islands corporation. Scam complete.

Now, you’re thinking, what the heck? The buyer got exactly what they paid for. How is this an ICO scam perpetrated by the lawyer or incorporator?

This is an ICO scam because the agent knows full well that the buyer won’t be able to get a bank account. They know that the buyer doesn’t have the legal structure or documents necessary to issue an ICO. They know that it will be a cold day in hell before this client gets a bank account opened for his ICO.

They know the Cayman Islands corporation can’t be used as intended. These lawyers are intentionally selling a useless structure to make a buck. They’re taking advantage of a buyer who has no idea what they’re doing and doesn’t have the financial backing to issue a proper ICO.

Even if the buyer could get a bank account opened, it would be closed after the first few deposits… and the ICO would probably be blacklisted by the industry.

The only way to open an account would be to lie to the bank about how you intend to use that Cayman Islands corporation. You say that the company will sell a service such as internet marketing or whatever. You won’t get an account in the Cayman Islands, but you’ll get one in a smaller offshore jurisdiction.

Now you issue the token and deposits start coming in. You’re converting bitcoin into FIAT and transferring that to your offshore account to fund your business.

Do this a few times and the bank will get suspicious. Send a large transfer, and the bank will get suspicious. They’ll want to know the source of funds and to see your sales agreements if you’re saying these are business transfers.

Let’s say you skirt past the bank’s KYC, AML and compliance systems (this won’t happen), what are the Cayman regulators going to say? If in some alternate universe, you somehow manage to raise a few million bucks, regulators will be all over you.

The bottom line is that these Cayman Islands corporations are useless for an ICO. At least, they’re useless without all of the legal and planning work that goes into a proper ICO.  

Sure, Cayman Islands is a top-tier jurisdiction for offshore ICOs and crypto funds. I recommend Cayman to clients all the time… clients who can afford the high costs associated with issuing a proper ICO from the Cayman Islands.

Back in the early days if ICOs, you might have been able to start in Cayman for $10,000. Today, you can’t get anywhere spending less than $50,000 on the front-end, and with most spending $100,000 on the back-end (success fees). Even low cost lesser jurisdictions are $35,000 in 2018.

The typical components of an offshore corporation in Caymans that will issue an ICO are as follows:

  1. Corporate entity,
  2. Financial Services Entity,
  3. Anti Money Laundering Manual (AML),
  4. Know Your Customers (KYC) procedures and systems,
  5. Dedicated Money Laundering Reporting Officer or Chief Compliance Officer with several years experience, and
  6. Sufficient capital to entice a correspondent bank to take you on as a client.

Setting up an ICO in 2018 is not cheap and any shortcuts will likely wind up causing massive headaches down the line.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks offering services in this area who haven’t got a clue or who know that what they’re selling is worthless. Sure, I can set up an offshore corporation for you in Cayman for less than $10,000, but it won’t be good for anything.

The choke points are the banks and international correspondent banks. They simply won’t accept anything that is not whiter than white in‎ the crypto arena.  That means proper licensing, approvals, and conformity with laws and regulations, especially US Securities laws if US persons are involved.

You’ll need to also address issues such as utility token or security coin right from the start. If a security, we’ll need to start as an exempt offering under 506(D) if any US persons are involved. Otherwise, we will still need a proper offering document wherever you want to set up shop that’s compliant with whichever countries you plan to sell into.

If you’re currently speaking with a promoter offering to form a cheap Cayman Islands company for your ICO, here’s what to do. Simply ask them to guarantee in writing that they’ll open a bank account in Caymans that will be allowed to receive ICO funds. Also, let them know you plan to visit the bank to discuss your ICO. This will shut them down very quickly.

I hope you’ve found this article on the offshore ICO scam and the Cayman Islands corporations. If you would like assistance with a proper and legal ICO out of Cayman, please contact me at or call me at (619) 483-1708  for a consultation.

We can also help you clean up your legal structure if you’ve already done some pre-sales. The only thing we can’t fix is sales of tokens or deposits accepted from non-accredited US investors. The only option there is to refund these buyers or face the ire of regulators.

And no, we can’t form an offshore corporation in the Cayman Islands for an ICO, allow you to do some pre-sales, and then get you into compliance. There’s way to much risk in that for you and us. Plus, the costs to fix a mess always outweigh the costs of doing it right the first time. If you’re already in trouble, we can help you get back on track, but we can’t go down that road with you.

Cryptocurrency Banks for Sale

Cryptocurrency Banks for Sale

The demand for offshore cryptocurrency accounts has exploded in 2018. Likewise, the demand for offshore bank licenses and correspondent accounts has increased dramatically. In 2016 I got a call a month asking about cryptocurrency banks for sale. Now we get a call a day asking for an international crypto friendly banks for sale. 2018 is shaping up to be the year for offshore bank licensing.

Why the increase in demand? With countries like the United States and China pushing out cryptocurrency exchanges and crypto traders, the demand for offshore banks has increased dramatically. If an offshore bank has US and EU correspondent accounts that allow funds to flow in and from crypto, that bank has a gold mine.

And the same goes for ICOs. They’ve been forced out of the United States, which means an offshore bank is a perfect vehicle to act as the investment bank and issue an international ICO. See: The Best ICOs for 2018.

Wanting to cash in on this new attention, a few of cryptocurrency banks are for sale. If you’re operating a crypto exchange, an ICO platform, or are a bitcoin billionaire, you might consider buying an offshore cryptocurrency bank for sale.

First, let me define what I mean by an “offshore” bank for sale. An offshore bank is a financial institution licensed in a zero or low tax jurisdiction. In most cases, an offshore bank can provide all manner of international banking services to persons and companies outside of its country of licensure. Conversely, it is prohibited from competing with local banks and may not offer services to locals.

The top offshore banking jurisdictions are Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Cook Islands, Gibraltar, and others. Banks that want to focus on the US often set up in Puerto Rico. Those who want to keep their distance from US regulators prefer Dominica and Belize. For more on this, see: The best offshore bank license jurisdictions.

Second, let me define what I mean by a “cryptocurrency” bank for sale. A cryptocurrency bank is one that has the necessary correspondent and other relationships to send and receive wires from cryptocurrency exchanges. The most important component of an offshore bank providing services to crypto clients is its correspondent banking relationships.

A crypto friendly bank is not necessarily a bank that issues its own token or one that operates on a blockchain. In fact, it may not have any FinTech components at all. The FinTech side of the equation is handled by the exchange and the offshore bank is focused on converting coins to FIAT and back again.

Third, let’s consider some of the issues that arise when you buy a cryptocurrency bank. There are two options when you buy a bank: take over an existing bank with an operating history and a book of business or buy an existing license and include correspondent banking services in the purchase.

When you buy an offshore bank that’s been operating for a few years, you buy its industry reputation and its client base. As with any major acquisition, you’ll need to audit its clients and loan portfolio. When buying an offshore bank, you must also look at its FATCA and CRS compliance to ensure you have no risk of fines from your regulators.

When you buy an offshore bank charter with new correspondent accounts, rather than an operating bank, the risk is that the correspondent banking has not been proven. In that case, you must check out the promoter and his or her experience in correspondent banking. And, of course, include such accounts in the transaction.

A few of the cryptocurrency banks for sale will accept bitcoin for 100% of the purchase price. You will need to replace the bank’s corporate capital with dollars, but the purchase can be completed in bitcoin.

Corporate capital for an offshore bank ranges from $550,000 to $10 million depending on the bank and the jurisdiction. New banks typically have $550,000 to $1 million in capital to support their license plus the amount held by their correspondent bank.

Let’s look at one cryptocurrency bank for sale.

The largest cryptocurrency bank I know of for sale has both US and European correspondent accounts which allow funds to flow in and out of crypto exchanges. Thus, it’s “crypto friendly” for multiple currencies. This bank also has a physical gold program which some investors use as a hedge against crypto volatility.

The keys to its value are:

  1. US and EU correspondent accounts which are crypto friendly,
  2. 15-year operating history and audited financials,
  3. Clean FATCA and CRS history,
  4. Relationships built over the years with regulators and correspondent partners,
  5. Diverse account portfolio with thousands of customers not heavy on crypto,
  6. Moderately profitable in 2017,
  7. Sellers are willing to take back the loan book if required,
  8. Supports US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling and Swiss Francs,
  9. Gold purchase and loan programs popular with crypto investors, and
  10. Willing to accept bitcoin for the purchase price.

The purchase price of this offshore bank is $100 million or about 12,000 bitcoin at today’s exchange rate.

By comparison, the cost of a new offshore bank for sale is about $10 million or 1,200 bitcoin. Such a bank would include the permit to organize, permit to operate, compliance, AML and KYC documentation, and correspondent relationships. The buyer would need to install his or her core banking software and connect into the correspondent banks.

The purchase of an offshore cryptocurrency bank is essentially the acquisition of a turn-key operation. Once you install your people and systems, you can begin offering services. This will save you 6 to 12 months compared to starting from scratch and eliminates all of the risks and hurdles of building an offshore crypto friendly bank.

Keep in mind that each and every shareholder will need to be approved by government regulators. We’ll need detailed information on all shareholders, including a clean police or FBI report.

The cost to purchase a new offshore cryptocurrency bank ranges from $10 million to $20 million depending on the jurisdiction. The cost for an offshore bank with an operating history and accounts ranges from $70 million to $100 million. There are very few operating banks sold (I see 1 or 2 per annum). On average, there are 4 new operating crypto banks sold and 30 new licenses (permit to incorporate) issued each year.

Let me end with a comment on starting a new bank with an ICO. This article on cryptocurrency banks for sale is for those who have completed an ICO or have raised the necessary capital. Starting a new bank on a budget is a very different matter and no seller will negotiate with someone pre-ICO (before you can provide a proof of funds).

If you’re pre-ICO and require an offshore bank license, you’ll need to start at the beginning. That means applying for a permit to organize from an offshore jurisdiction like Dominica or Puerto Rico. Once you have the authorization to incorporate a bank in hand, you can raise capital using the term “bank” in your offer documents.

The usual cost of drafting a business plan, preparing basic compliance documents, and negotiating a license from an offshore jurisdiction is $150,000. For more on what it takes to build an offshore bank, see: Four Steps to Build an Offshore Bank.

For an article on funding an offshore bank with an Initial Coin Offering, see: How to start an offshore bank with an ICO.

I hope you’ve found this article on cryptocurrency banks for sale to be helpful. For more information on purchasing an existing offshore bank or setting up a new financial entity, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708.

The usual process to acquire an international bank is an initial consultation to learn about your requirements and objectives. Then we’ll need a proof of funds for $10 to $100 million and the resumes or background information on each shareholder. And, of course, we’ll need a retainer to represent you in the purchase of an offshore bank. Only when this information is provided will the offshore bank open its books to examination.

How to start an offshore bank with an ICO

How to start an offshore bank with an ICO

Many FinTech startups are seeking offshore banking licenses in 2018. A banking license from a crypto friendly (and hopefully low tax) country is key to many of the initial coin offerings being floated this year. Here’s how to start an offshore bank with an ICO.

Note that this article is focused on those who have not yet raised the capital necessary to launch an offshore bank. It’s intended for pre-ICO firms that are starting out on a budget. If you’ve already raised between $10 and $100 million for this phase of your project, you can purchase an existing bank. For more on this see: Cryptocurrency Banks for Sale.

When you’re pre-ICO, you’ll need to negotiate a permit to organize in a crypto friendly banking jurisdiction before you can market your ICO. Only after you have your permit can you represent to investors that you are in the process of forming an international financial entity.

Countries refer to this license as a permit to organize, preliminary international banking license, permit to incorporate a bank, or something similar. They all mean the same thing – you’ve been approved to form a bank and can begin building your business. No matter the country, the permit to organize is the foundation on which you build an offshore bank with an ICO.

A permit to organize an offshore bank is a license from the government giving you the authorization to incorporate a bank and to begin setting up operations in their country. It’s granted after regulators have reviewed your business plan, financials, and the bios of the founders. When the government is satisfied that your business model is sound and that the people behind the bank have the requisite experience, they’ll grant you a permit to organize.

Once you have this permit, you can incorporate your bank and issue an ICO in the name of that bank. Prior to the permit being issued, you are not allowed to use the word “bank” in any of your marketing materials, white paper, website, or other promotional and sales documents.

After the permit is issued, you have 6 months to raise capital and begin operations. In most countries, you’re allowed to extend the permit for another 6 or 12 months. That means you have 1 or 1.5 years to launch the bank once you have a permit to incorporate in hand.

For a detailed list of the steps to form and launch an international bank, see: The 8 Components of an Offshore Bank License.

The typical cost for legal and other fees to negotiate a permit to organize are $110,000 to $250,000 depending on the jurisdiction. In most cases, this is the only money required to get over the first hurdle and prepare the way for your ICO.

All banks require some amount of corporate capital. For example, a bank in Puerto Rico requires $550,000 ($200,000 paid-in and a CD or bond for $350,000). A bank chartered in Dominica requires $1 million in corporate capital. For more banking jurisdictions, see: Top 5 Offshore Bank License Jurisdictions for 2017.

However, these amounts need not be put up until you file for your permit to operate. That is to say, you can receive your permit to organize without depositing the required corporate capital. You can then use your permit to organize to raise all of the capital necessary to launch and operate the bank. You can use the permit to organize to start an offshore bank with an ICO.

In order to receive the permit to organize, you’ll need to prepare a detailed business plan with financial projections. This plan, and the related compliance documents will be used to convince the regulators that your business model is solid and that you’ll run a clean business.

You will also need to show that your key employees and your board of directors have the necessary experience to launch and run a bank. The plan should include resumes of directors and employees with significant banking experience. We recommend a minimum of 3 directors and 5 is more common. We also recommend that at least one director and one key employee has banking compliance experience (KYC, AML, etc.).

There’s no requirement that you have these employees under contract. Just that they agree to work for the bank once your permit to organize is issued. Thus, it’s possible to build a quality team and business plan without depleting your resources. When you start an offshore bank with an ICO, capital is often at a premium in the early days.

In addition to your compliance personnel, regulators will look closely at your core banking system and your Chief Technology Officer. This person should have the experience necessary to build out the bank’s IT and ensure the security of the data.

The quality of your people and of your business plan are 90% of the work that goes into an application for a permit to organize. If you’ve put in the effort upfront, negotiating the license should be easy for someone with the right connections.

For more on the steps to build out an offshore bank, see: Four Steps to Build an Offshore Bank.

For more on this topic, please see my 300-page book on Amazon Kindle, Offshore Bank License Guide.

I hope you’ve found this article on how to start an offshore bank with an ICO to be helpful. For more information, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you to draft the business plan, build a team, issue an ICO, and launch the international bank.

How to trade cryptocurrency and manage investments for others without a license

How to trade cryptocurrency and manage investments for others without a license

I get a number of emails from readers each week asking how they can manage money for friends and family offshore. They want to trade cryptocurrency and make investments for others without going to the expense of setting up a licensed and regulated exchange. So, here’s how to trade cryptocurrency and manage investments for others without a license.

When you want to trade crypto or other assets for anyone other than yourself, you need an account that allows you to hold other people’s money. Banks are very cautious when it comes to those trading on behalf of others or managing investments without a license.

First, banks don’t want to be fined for facilitating money laundering. Banks paid hundreds of millions in the last few years for “allowing” their customers to avoid taxes and launder illicit gains. The bank might not have had any idea what was going on, but their due diligence procedures weren’t stringent enough to catch the wrongdoers, so they were fined big time.

Second, banks and governments don’t want anyone without a license managing other people’s money. Brokerage and investment management licenses and regulation is big business. If you don’t want to pay, you won’t be allowed to play.

Third, banks must follow strict Know Your Client (KYC) rules. When you open an account, the bank checks you out and thereby knows you, their customer. If you then receive friends and family or customer money in your bank account, the bank doesn’t “know” the true beneficial owner of the money. The actual owner is one level removed from the person the bank “knows.”

Setting up an offshore corporation and hoping for the best is not a good idea in today’s world. Banks are watching for the source of funds on most wires. They will check outflows and for anyone using their account to manage OPM. If you try to hide, you’ll be caught and kicked to the curb.

Against that backdrop, here’s how to trade cryptocurrency and manage investments for others without a license.

When you don’t want to set up a regulated exchange, which can cost $35,000 to $250,000, depending on the country, you can use offshore LLCs and a trading corporation to accomplish your goals.

You, the trader form an investment corporation and a management LLC. Then, each and every client forms an offshore LLC. Yes, every single client, friend, or family, must have their own offshore corporation. Only a husband and wife can have a joint LLC.

Next, all of these structures open offshore accounts at the same international bank. In this way, the bank has done its due diligence on you and your customers. Everyone has been reviewed and approved by the bank and transfers will be permitted between the group of companies.

Once everyone has been approved, the client LLCs can issue a Power of Attorney to your management LLC. With this Power of Attorney on file with the bank, you will be allowed to manage the investments of these clients and transfer funds into your investment corporation.

This multi LLC offshore investment management structure ticks all the right boxes. It allows you to manage client funds and for the bank to do its KYC on everyone involved. Because all the accounts are at the same bank, transfer costs are minimized and the source of funds won’t be questioned.

A separate LLC system to trade cryptocurrency and manage investments for others without a license works well with large investors. Because of the setup costs, it’s not efficient for smaller clients or selling investments to the general public.

This practical limitation is positive for banks. They don’t want someone operating an unregulated offshore hedge fund selling to mom and pop investors. This will only bring trouble and litigation to the bank. They like larger accounts, larger deals, and sophisticated investors.

This system also allows sophisticated investors to put more advanced structures in place. For example, they might want to trade within an international trust for estate and asset protection reasons. High net worth investors might want to hold the LLC inside an offshore life insurance company to eliminate US tax on the capital gains.

You can also use this structures to create private entities in countries with public registries. For example, let’s say you want to invest in Panama. That country has a public registry of corporate shareholders and directors and a list of beneficial owners of foundations (their version of a trust).

To keep your name out of the registry, you can set up an offshore LLC in a country like Nevis or Belize that doesn’t have a public registry. Then, this LLC can be the founder of a foundation or the officer and director of a Panama corporation. In this way, the beneficial owner (you) won’t be listed in the registry.

When someone searches the Panama database, all they’ll see is the name of your Belize LLC. When they go to Belize for more information, they’ll hit a brick wall.

Whether this offshore LLC structure is cost-effective will depend on how many clients/friends and family you plan to manage. In most cases, the base corporation might cost $3,500 and each LLC $2,000 to $2,900 to set up (not including bank fees).

The largest structure I’ve seen like this was 3,400 LLCs and two management corporations in Switzerland. Why, you ask, would someone spend that kind of money on LLCs? Because they don’t want to go through all the compliance and regulation that comes with a fully licensed exchange.

Had they decided to operate as an investment manager in Switzerland, they would have had to hire someone with the necessary Swiss licenses and go through a very arduous registration process. The multi LLC model eliminated both of these requirements.

Plus, once you have a license, you have quarterly filing, KYC and AML compliance, and all manner of regulations to contend with. When you use separate offshore LLCs, it’s a private transaction between you and your friend/client.

Finally, this system allows some clients to move their retirement accounts offshore. They could form an offshore IRA LLC and transfer some or all of their vested retirement savings into that entity. Then, that LLC could issue a POA to you, the trader.

As you can see, this multi offshore LLC approach to trading cryptocurrency and managing OPM for others without a license can be a very powerful tool.

I hope you’ve found this article on how to trade cryptocurrency and investments for others without a license to be helpful. For more information on setting up a regulated or unregulated crypto trading business, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you with an offshore structure and banking.

Take your IRA offshore and invest in cryptocurrency

Take your IRA offshore and invest in cryptocurrency

I expect cryptocurrency to remain a hot IRA investment in 2018. Almost every call we get these days is about investing in cryptocurrency offshore. Clients want to manage their crypto offshore in private and avoid the IRS audits we all know are coming. So, here’s how to take your IRA offshore and invest in cryptocurrency.

When I talk about cryptocurrency, I don’t mean only bitcoin and ethereum. What’s hot are all the altcoins and forks. Altcoins like AAC, ACT, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, Ardor, sia coin, and others. And, we see about 20 forks coming in 2018. A few exchanges, such as, guarantee that they’ll pass along all of these forks to their users.

The best way to avoid IRS audits of your crypto account, and the coming war in the United States, is to setup your account offshore. The way to gain access to the best trading platforms is through an offshore company. The best way to gain access to altcoins and forks is to take your IRA offshore and invest in cryptocurrency. The way to participate in top ICOs is to invest through an offshore structure.

So, here’s how to take your IRA offshore.

The first step is to move your account(s) to a custodian that allows for international investments. This is usually a US custodian that supports offshore LLCs like Midland IRA or Entrust. The most popular custodian for crypto investors is Midland, but there are several which offer this service. Neither of these companies is associated with Premier.

The reason I say you’ll probably need to move to a new custodian is that none of the big firms support offshore investments. The big guys, like Fidelity and Merrill Lynch, make their money by selling you their investments. When you go offshore, the custodian no longer is in control and doesn’t earn a commission on your trades.

And not all self-directed custodians allow for international investments. Firms like IRA Services in California allow US LLCs but not offshore LLCs. In order to move your retirement account out of the United States, you need a US custodian that is experienced in offshore structures.

Once your account is with the right custodian, we can form your offshore IRA LLC. We will work with you to select the best jurisdiction, form the company, draft the operating agreement and other documents, and open your bank and/or crypto accounts.

In most cases, we’ll open both a bank account and a crypto account. You will sell your US investments and transfer cash offshore. It’s rare that a US custodian allows for like-kind exchanges. Though, we have seen some with self-directed accounts move offshore by transferring crypto, thereby avoiding tax on the sale.

Once your IRA LLC is set up and funded, you can trade cryptocurrency in private. You’ll also have access to a number of smaller altcoins that are not available in the United States.

The same goes for ICOs. The US SEC has pushed most ICOs out of the country. Only the very largest and best-funded companies can issue a US compliant ICO. This means that US ICOs will be from companies that have already gone through many rounds of funding, with venture capitalists taking big bites of the pie.

If you want to invest in a true startup, then you need to do so offshore. If you want to invest as a VC, and get in on the ground floor, you need to invest offshore using an IRA LLC.

And, of course, you’re not limited to investing in cryptocurrency. You can buy gold, hold multiple currencies, invest in foreign real estate, and just about anything else you wish. You must follow all US IRA rules, but you’re in control and you select the investments that fit your risk tolerance.

Note that you can’t buy a house and live in it with retirement money. You can invest in rental properties, with the rental profits and gains flowing back into your retirement account. For more on this, see: Can I buy foreign real estate with my IRA?

One popular hedge offshore is to purchase physical gold in your IRA. You can buy gold through a bank, such as Caye Bank in Belize, and hold it as a hedge against crypto and fiat currencies.

And some banks, such as Caye, allow you to borrow against your physical gold. We have clients purchasing gold and borrowing against it to trade crypto. For more on the rules around buying gold with your retirement account, see: IRA Gold Rules.

But, watch out for IRA lending rules and UBIT. When you borrow in an IRA, you must use a non-recourse loan. Also, Unrelated Business Income Tax can apply if you don’t have a UBIT blocker corporation in place.  For these reasons, I recommend that only the most sophisticated IRA investors use leverage in their account.

The bottom line is that taking your IRA offshore will give you access to the best altcoins, ICOs, forks (IFOs), exchanges, and high yield investments. Add to this the max privacy and asset protection you get, and you see why offshore IRA LLCs are so hot in 2018.

I hope you’ve found this article on why you should take your IRA offshore to invest in cryptocurrency to be helpful. For more information, please contact us at or call us at (619) 483-1708 for a confidential consultation.

Cryptocurrency Mexico

Fintech and Cryptocurrency Law in Mexico

As other countries wait for government officials to dictate what happens with cryptocurrency and Fintech Companies, Mexico just took a big step forward. After making several adjustments to the proposed bill, Mexican senators finally approved with 102 votes in favor and none against a law that regulates financial technology companies in Mexico. Delegates still need to vote to approve the measure, but this is a major step forward.  

Mexico has a lot to gain with the approval of the Fintech and Cryptocurrency Law and the mainstream adoption of bitcoin. About 44% of the Mexican population doesn’t have a bank account due to the mistrust that exists between citizens and financial institutions. That’s 29 million Mexicans that don’t have a bank account and live on cash.

The transparency that comes with cryptocurrency transactions might fix this problem. If the bill becomes law, and it’s not there yet, it will create a Fintech solution for the unbankable. Let’s take a moment to take a look at some of the most interesting key aspects of Mexico’s Fintech Law.

One of the main points of the Fintech Law is to increase the level of financial inclusion throughout the country, promote competition and provide legal certainty to participants in the sector, contributing to the improvement of the national financial system. There are over 158 Fintech companies in Mexico that will benefit from having an established framework from which to operate.

This is especially true for cryptocurrency exchanges. They require specific laws and quality regulation. In order to maintain banking and other relationships, cryptocurrency exchanges need to be in a regulated environment where their business partners know what to expect and that the exchange is operating within a specific legal framework.

When cryptocurrency exchanges began offshore a few years back, most were looking for countries with no regulation. Exchanges thought they could operate outside of the KYC, AML and compliance systems.

These exchanges quickly found it was impossible to get correspondent banking relationships. Also, it was difficult to transfer crypto from an unregulated exchange to a regulated exchange in a quality jurisdiction such as the United States.

As a result, international cryptocurrency exchanges began seeking countries with specific cryptocurrency laws and regulations. When operating from within these boundaries, the exchange has access to banks and other providers. Outside of the system, clients have no way to convert their bitcoin to FIAT money.

Today, these countries are Mexico in the Latin American region and Switzerland in the European region.

Article 36 of the Fintech and Cryptocurrency Law details the requirements that will be needed for a cryptocurrency exchange to be granted authorization to operate. The exchange will have to set a minimum capital to perform their activities in agreement with the provisions issued by the Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV).  The minimum capital may vary depending on the type of activities they perform and the financial risk they face can be read in the Fintech Law bill that was approved by Senate. The amount of capital has not yet been determined.

In order for a Fintech or Cryptocurrency Exchange to start operating, they must be authorized by the CNBV, be a Limited Liability Company, and have a domicile in Mexico. They must also have a corporate governance structure, operating systems, keep their accounting logs up to date, have a strong security system, as well as offices and operating and compliance manuals.

The bill permits banks and cryptocurrency exchanges to share their applications or technological interfaces, called API (Application Programming Interface), without violating the financial secrecy that is key for its function.

CNBV must receive authorization from the Bank of Mexico to approve a Fintech company, to give legality to its operations. A Fintech company in Mexico must inform their clients about the volatility and unpredictability of virtual assets, the risks of fraud, and that transactions may be reversed by governing bodies.

The Fintech Companies must inform their clients of the risk involved receive a signed contract from their clients indicating they understand. The law specifies that the government will not be responsible for any sort of financial reimbursement to users in the event of fraud, so businesses will be required to communicate this on their website and disclose this before entering into a contract with them.

A Financial Technology Council will be created that consists of 12 members, which will include representatives of the CNBV, the tax authority, and Banxico. Their goal will be to encourage the exchange of opinions and solve any problems that occur with the Fintech and Cryptocurrency Exchange Companies. They will meet at least once a year.

Article 44 of the Fintech Law, which refers to the limits that the authorities should set for this type of platform, states that limits in which these companies may operate will differ based on the type of client, type of project, type of transaction and when established by the CNBV or the Bank of Mexico will have to take into consideration at least the regulation of other figures of the financial system subject to compliance with established principles in this Law and the protection of the interests of investors.

So, like Switzerland, Mexico is building an efficient cryptocurrency law that will protect investors and allow the business to grow. The negative with Mexico is their corporate tax rate of 30%. With changes to the US system, Mexico now has one of the highest tax rates in the region.

In order to reduce tax in Mexico, you might set up an offshore division and minimize income into the country. However, international transfer pricing and audit rules are very strict in Mexico, so be careful where you incorporate.

For example, it’s nearly impossible to get a deduction approved for a payment to a tax haven such as Panama. While the US treats all counties the same, Mexico is known to disallow expenses to tax havens.

Possibly the best option for a large exchange is a license in Mexico and your primary operations in the US territory of Puerto Rico. The Mexican office would handle marketing and support, and operations would be done from Puerto Rico.

Income sourced to Puerto Rico will be taxed at 4%. If the owners of the exchange are foreign persons (not US persons), dividends paid from Puerto Rico will be tax free. If the owners are US citizens and residents of Puerto Rico, dividends will be tax free under Act 22.

For more on Puerto Rico for cryptocurrency, see: Tax efficient structure for US cryptocurrency exchange.

For more on Puerto Rico’s many tax incentives, see: A Detailed Analysis of Puerto Rico’s Tax Incentive Programs.

I hope you’ve found this article on fintech and cryptocurrency law in Mexico to be helpful. For more information on setting up an exchange, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

cryptocurrency exchange tax

Tax efficient structure for US cryptocurrency exchange

Here’s how to cut your corporate tax rate for a US cryptocurrency exchange to 4%. If you’re operating a licensed exchange in the United States, and you’re willing to move some or all of your employees, we can get your corporate tax rate down to 4%.

This article considers a tax efficient structure for US cryptocurrency exchange and is meant for larger exchanges licensed in the United States. It can also apply to international exchanges that require a US presence and US banking services. The 4% rate is a great offer compared to Switzerland and 12.43% in Zug and higher in other cantons.

Note that this tax-efficient structure for crypto exchange doesn’t replace your US licenses. It’s an add-on to your current structure that allows you to pay only 4% tax on corporate profits. Nor does it change any of your compliance or regulatory requirements.

This 4% tax rate applies to corporate tax reportable in your state of operation. For example, let’s say your headquarters is in California and this is where all of your employees are located. Move this headquarters, including all the employees, and you can exchange the combined Federal and state rates of 30%+ (21% federal and 8.84% for a c-corp or 10.84% for a financial c-corp in California) for 4%.

If you’re paying tax in the states where you’re licensed but don’t have employees, these taxes will remain the same. They’re based on being licensed in the state and not corporate income from work performed in California (your state of operation).

Without any more ado, here’s how to create a tax efficient structure for a US cryptocurrency exchange and pay only 4% in corporate income tax:

Move your business to the US territory of Puerto Rico and operate under the International Financial Entity license, or Act 273. Your corporate profits sourced to Puerto Rico will be taxed at 4% and not taxed in the United States. This is not corporate tax deferral available offshore… this is a corporate tax rate of 4% replacing a US rate of 30%.

Income is “sourced to Puerto Rico” if it’s earned from work performed in the territory. Likewise, income is sourced to the United States, and taxable there, if earned from work performed in the US.

For example, if half of your workforce is in California and half is in Puerto Rico, about half of your income might be attributable to Puerto Rico. Thus, 50% would be taxable at 4% and 50% at 30%.

If you move your business and all employees to Puerto Rico, sourcing is a simple matter… all corporate profits will be sourced to the island and taxed at 4%. When you split work between the US and PR, a transfer pricing study and in-depth analysis are required.

  • In practice, sourcing of income will look and the quality of work performed in CA vs PR and is much more complex than this example.
  • For more on sourcing, see: What is Puerto Rico Sourced Income for an Act 20 Business. This post is about Act 20 and not 273, but the sourcing concept is the same.

The corporate profits of your cryptocurrency exchange operated from Puerto Rico will be taxed at 4%. Dividends from the Puerto Rico company to a foreign corporation or non-US person are tax-free. Likewise, dividends from your Act 273 business to a resident of Puerto Rico who qualifies for Act 22 are tax-free. Dividends from the International Financial Entity to persons in the United States will be taxed in the United States.

That is to say, US persons can move to Puerto Rico, qualify under Act 22, and pay zero US tax on dividends from an Act 273 cryptocurrency exchange. You will pay PR tax on the salary you take out of the business and zero on dividend distributions. Shareholders that live in the US will pay US tax on dividend distributions.

For more on Puerto Rico’s various tax incentives, see: A Detailed Analysis of Puerto Rico’s Tax Incentive Programs.

To set up in Puerto Rico under Act 273, you will need the following:

  1. Puerto Rico corporation with $250,000 paid-in capital and a CD for $300,000, for a total of $550,000 in capital.
  2. Minimum of 5 employees on the island.
  3. Detailed business plan with projections, operating manuals, and KYC, BSA and AML documentation.
  4. Resumes and financial reports on all key employees.

With this documentation, we can apply for an International Financial Entity license for your cryptocurrency exchange. You will be granted a permit to organize and given time to build out an office, IT systems, hire your employees, etc.

When you’re ready to go live, you will give notice to government regulators. They’ll come out and review your systems and documents. When you pass the audit, you’ll be given a permit to operate.

An Act 273 license will allow you to move the operation of your cryptocurrency exchange to Puerto Rico and exchange your 30% tax rate for a 4% tax rate.  

I hope you’ve found this article on a tax-efficient structure for US cryptocurrency exchange to be helpful. For more on International Financial Entities, see my 300-page book on Amazon.

An IFE license can be used to set up many different businesses. In addition to a tax-efficient cryptocurrency exchange, an IFE license could be used to operate an international bank, family office, brokerage and FX firm, etc. My book is focused on the international banking components of the IFE, but you will find it useful for a cryptocurrency exchange.

For more on building an International Financial Entity in Puerto Rico, you can reach me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you to redomicile your exchange to Puerto Rico and offer a turn-key solution for Act 273 exchange.

take your IRA offshore

Take your IRA offshore to invest in ICOs and Bitcoin

The United States has forced most ICOs out and will launch an all out attack on Bitcoin in 2018. If you want to hold Bitcoin in your IRA, you should first move your retirement account offshore. Here’s how and why to take your IRA offshore and invest in ICOs and Bitcoin in 2018.

In 2017, the US Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that ICOs were investments akin to traditional Initial Public Offerings. This determination means that the SEC has authority over ICOs and that ICOs must follow the same rules as an IPO.

This also means that the legal and compliance costs to issue an ICO are about the same as they are for an IPO. While a boon for lawyers and CPAs, these costs mean that smaller high value, and early stage ICOs will never see the light of day in the United States.

ICOs have two options in 2018: 1) go through several rounds of funding (angel plus 2 or 3 rounds of VC) before going public, or 2) move offshore and don’t market in the United States.

VCs are sure to have stripped out most of the pure “startup value” from these ICOs by the time of the offering. Plus, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even a million or more, to the startup costs, means only the largest ICOs will get to market.

Of course, coming into a deal in the late rounds is safer, but most ICO investors are looking for looking for a clean deal. One of the primary objectives of the ICO model was to avoid the costs and greed of angels and VCs.

The SEC will push early stage ICOs out of the United States in 2018. Look for the best ICOs to be offered in Mexico and offshore in jurisdictions like St. Lucia, Dominica, Cayman, Jersey and Guernsey.

At the same time, the IRS is doing it’s best to push high net worth investors offshore. The Service is planning all out assault on Bitcoin in 2018, with most of the early targets coming from Coinbase. This site will be turning over more than 14,000 clients to the IRS in 2018 and the audits will begin.

Because the best way to eliminate US tax on your Bitcoin trades is to buy in your IRA, a lot of investors are creating digital IRAs. I expect this trend to hold and increase in 2018.

There are two ways to create a digital IRA. You can setup a self directed account in the US with a custodian that allows you to invest in Bitcoin, or you can setup an offshore IRA LLC. With a self directed account, you’re limited to US investments and the account is under the control of the custodian. With an offshore IRA LLC, the account is out of the US and is under your control.

There is one way to protect your IRA from government overreach – move your retirement account offshore and into an offshore IRA LLC. For more on buying Bitcoin in an IRA, see: Protect your IRA by moving it onto the blockchain.

As I said above, to buy crypto in the United States, you need a self directed IRA. To take your retirement account offshore, you need to add an offshore IRA LLC to this self directed account. Your custodian invests your IRA into an LLC incorporated in Belize, Cook Islands, Nevis, or some other tax free jurisdiction, and appoints you as the manager of this LLC.

With a self directed account, your custodian follows your investment instructions, but he or she has the ultimate say on how the account is invested. Most custodians don’t allow for offshore investments in a self directed account because they can’t or won’t do the due diligence necessary to review those transactions.

Because a US custodian can be held liable if your investments go south, they avoid risk. To eliminate this liability, you form an LLC and the custodian transfers funds to that structure. What happens from here is totally up to you. The liability and decision making is transferred from the custodian to you, the account owner, with an offshore IRA LLC.

The steps to take your IRA offshore are as follows:

First, you can only move a vested account offshore. A vested account is usually one from a previous employer. When you change jobs, or retire, your IRA account vests and you can move it to a new custodian… one that allows for the offshore IRA LLC structure.

Once you’re account is with a friendly custodian, we can form your offshore IRA LLC. This is a single member LLC where the member of the LLC is your retirement account. That is to say, the owner of the LLC is your IRA.

  • Note that a husband and wife can use the same LLC. You can move multiple accounts into a single LLC structure.

Next, the LLC appoints you as the manager of the structure. Again, the IRA is the owner of the LLC and you are the manager. In this capacity, you have total control over the bank accounts, crypto wallets, and investments.

Once the LLC and bank accounts are in place, the US custodian transfers the cash from your IRA to the international bank. You generally can’t transfer stocks or other assets offshore (like kind transfers). You should be moving US dollars into an offshore account.

Finally, you move those dollars into an international crypto trading platform. Now you have control over the account and are the investment manager of the LLC. As such, you must follow all US IRA rules and always act in the best interest of the account, just as a professional investment advisor would.

I hope you’ve found this article on taking your IRA offshore to invest in ICOs and Bitcoin to be helpful. For more information on moving your retirement account offshore, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

Trade Bitcoin Tax Free

How to Trade Bitcoin Tax Free

Each and every Bitcoin transaction is taxable. If you sell Bitcoin and buy Ethereum, that’s a taxable trade. If you use Bitcoin to buy a laptop on Amazon, that’s a taxable transaction. If you sell bitcoin, hold dollars in your wallet for a week, and then re-buy Bitcoin, that’s a taxable transaction. Here’s how to trade Bitcoin and pay zero capital gains tax.

Basically, anything that you do with Bitcoin is taxable. The IRS has determined that Bitcoin is a capital asset and not a currency. Thus, when you use that asset, you’re exchanging it and not spending it under our tax laws.

Even if you were to buy a Subway sandwich using Bitcoin, that would be a taxable transaction. You would be exchanging a fraction of a Bitcoin for the sandwich.

You would report your sandwich purchase on Schedule D of your personal income tax return. Your basis would be the price you paid for that fraction of a coin and your taxable gain would be the appreciation that occurred from when you bought the coin and when you exchanged it for lunch.

If you’re using a US wallet or cryptocurrency exchange, each and every trade is being tracked for tax purposes. Transfers out of your exchange to another wallet are being recorded as sales.

For example, you send $30,000 in Bitcoin from your Coinbase account to a desktop wallet. This $30,000 is recorded as a sale and reported to the IRS on Form 1099 at the end of the year. If you return that $30,000 to Coinbase, they’ll likely book it as a new deposit with zero basis. For more on this, see Coinbase Support.

And the IRS is coming after taxpayers hard. A district court just ruled that Coinbase must turn over the trading records of over 14,000 clients who had over $20,000 of cryptocurrency in their accounts.

With the IRS getting ready for an all out war against Bitcoin, many are looking for ways to trade cryptocurrency tax free. Here are the only 3 legal ways to trade Bitcoin tax free.

IRA & Retirement Accounts

Because Bitcoin is an asset, you can trade it in your retirement account or your defined benefit plan. All trades in your IRA will be tax free (ROTH) or tax deferred (traditional).

And, because of the nature of Bitcoin, you can take control of your retirement accounts and move it offshore. Bitcoin can be held and traded anywhere. You’re not required to use a US wallet or a US trading platform connected to the IRS.

To hold Bitcoin in your IRA in the United States, you should set up a self directed IRA. This gives you the ability and authority to manage your own account and eliminate investment advisory fees.

To take your retirement account offshore, you need to add an offshore IRA LLC to that self directed account. Your US custodian invests your retirement savings into your LLC and you take it from there.

Puerto Rico

Residents of Puerto Rico that qualify for Act 22 do not pay tax on their capital gains. As a US territory, Puerto Rico is free to make it’s own tax laws for its residents, which it did with Act 20 and Act 22.

Under Act 20, any qualifying business that moves to the territory will pay only 4% in corporate income tax. Act 20 gives a 100% tax exemption for the capital gains and passive income of any qualifying resident.

So, move out of your high tax state to Puerto Rico and pay zero capital gains on your Bitcoin transactions. No state tax and no federal tax on your investment profits.

Warning: the tax benefits of Puerto Rico only apply to assets purchased after you become a resident. No, you can’t move to Puerto Rico and sell the coins you’ve been holding. Assets acquired while you were in the US are taxable in the US and assets acquired after you become a resident of Puerto Rico are taxable in the territory.

Life Insurance Policy

Capital gains are tax free inside a life insurance policy. If you set up an offshore private placement life insurance policy, you can trade cryptocurrency tax free.

If you close the insurance policy during your lifetime, you’ll pay US tax on the gains (you got tax deferral from the policy). If you hold the assets in the policy until your death, they will pass tax free to your heirs (considering the step-up in basis).

Offshore PPLIPs are expensive to set up and maintain. Therefore, they’re usually only available for accounts of $2.5 million or more.


Those are the three legal ways for a US citizen to pay zero US tax on thier Bitcoin trades. Remember that it doesn’t matter where you live in the world. So long as you hold a blue passport, Uncle Sam wants his cut of your capital gains. If you move to a foreign country, you will still pay US tax on your Bitcoin gains.

The ONLY exception to worldwide taxation is found in the US territory of Puerto Rico. As a territory, income of residents is excluded from Federal tax under Section 933 of the US tax code.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. For more information on setting up an offshore IRA LLC, a PPLIP, or qualifying for Act 22 in Puerto Rico, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

What can I buy with Bitcoin

What can I buy with Bitcoin?

The list of items you can buy with Bitcoin hasn’t changed much since 2014. Yes, there are some good websites in the group of 100,000+ that accept Bitcoin, and there are restaurants that accept crypto, but there have been very few large transactions done in Bitcoin… until now.

To date, Bitcoin has been a buy and hold or trade investment. The practical uses of crypto as a currency have yet to be proven. Sure, as more merchants come on line, and more large dollar transactions are completed in Bitcoin, it may become the alternative means of transacting the founders envisioned. Until then, Bitcoin is primarily an investment.

And this is how the IRS views Bitcoin – as a capital asset and an investment like a share of stock. Whenever you sell Bitcoin or exchange it for another cryptocurrency, you have a capital gain or loss that must be reported. Likewise, whenever you exchange Bitcoin for something, anything, you have a taxable event reportable on Schedule D of your personal tax return.

As I said, there has not been much change to what you can buy with Bitcoin in 2018. Sure, there are a few more merchants, and Coinbase and others have improved their user interfaces, but nothing exciting has gone on in the offshore space… until now.

The motivation for this article is the fact that you can now buy real estate in Belize using Bitcoin. You can complete the entire transaction is Bitcoin, including taxes and fees. I expect Belize to begin allowing purchases in Ethereum in the next few weeks.

The second unique offering of Bitcoin is residency in Panama. If you’re from the US, EU, UK, or any of the top 50 countries, you can get residency with in investment of $20,000 plus fees in crypto. More on this later.

The ability to buy real estate in Belize using Bitcoin is a big deal. It means that, for the first time, you can exchange Bitcoin for real estate in a private offshore transaction. You can use Bitcoin to plant your flag offshore in a country that believes in the values that Bitcoin was founded on – privacy, security, and freedom.

Belize has always embodied these principles. Taxation is minimal and the right to privacy is absolute. You can live, work, and do things your way in Belize without government interference.

The other reason buying real estate in Belize using Bitcoin is a big deal is that this is the first large dollar offshore transaction available to those holding crypto. Many early adopters have a lot of Bitcoin that they don’t want to convert to dollars and don’t know what to do with.

These early adopters are looking for an efficient way to diversify out of Bitcoin in a private transaction. Belize is the first jurisdiction to provide a path to convert relatively large amounts of Bitcoin into an asset like real estate.

Yes, there have been one or two real estate transactions in the US that were completed with Bitcoin. These were one off transactions where the seller agreed to accept Bitcoin from the buyer… and the sale was reportable to the IRS and other US agencies by the exchange / wallet and through the escrow agent.

Belize is the first country where you can easily buy real estate using Bitcoin without all the red tape. Systems are in place to facilitate the transactions and it may even be possible to get a mortgage from a local bank, such as Caye Bank, to support a Bitcoin transaction.

You can also buy residency in Panama using Bitcoin. Invest the equivalent of $20,000, plus legal and government fees, in this country’s reforestation visa program and get permanent residency. After 5 years of residency you can apply for citizenship and a second passport from Panama.

Panama’s residency program is open to citizens of the US, EU, UK and other “friendly nations.” These are basically those from top 50 countries. Some on the list, such as South Africa, are surprising, so click here for more information.

If you’re not from a friendly nation, you can buy residency in Nicaragua with Bitcoin. This program requires an investment of $35,000 and costs are about $10,000 per person. You can complete the entire program using Bitcoin and it’s open to citizens of China, India, and most other countries.

Like Panama, you can apply for citizenship and a second passport from Nicaragua after 5 years of residency. The catch with Nica is that you must spend 180 days a year in country to maintain your residency. Panama does not have a physical presence requirement.

What else can you buy with Bitcoin? Here are the more common options:

  1. Over 100,000 merchants now accept Bitcoin. Click here for a list.
  2. Here’s a list of restaurants throughout the United States that accept Bitcoin.
  3. The most common way to spend Bitcoin today is by transferring crypto to a US dollar gift card. These cards can then be used in hundreds of stores online and in the US. The top crypto to gift card platforms are eGifter and Gyft.
  4. You can spend Bitcoin for travel on Expedia and Cheap Air.

I hope you’ve found this article on what can you buy with Bitcoin to be helpful. For more on residency in Panama or Nicaragua, or to be connected to a real estate expert in Belize, please contact me at We’ll be happy to introduce you to a local expert who can assist you diversify your holdings.

IRS Bitcoin

The IRS smells blood in the water over Bitcoin!

The IRS smells blood in the water over Bitcoin and it’s coming hard for Coinbase users. The war on cryptocurrency is just getting started and it’s going to get ugly fast. Expect US citizens with US crypto accounts to be put in jail to send a message to the rest of us to fall in line.

The IRS says that only 0.2% of Coinbase users reported a gain or a loss from cryptocurrency on their returns. The government reviewed 500,000 accounts and found only 900 of them had properly reported transactions on their US returns.

The IRS has ruled that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are property. That means each and every trade of crypto results in a capital gain or loss that must be reported on Schedule D. Cryptocurrency is treated like stock and not as a currency for US tax reporting.

So, if you bought Bitcoin and exchanged it for Ethereum in your wallet, that trade is taxable. Each time you sell Bitcoin, you have a taxable gain. Anyone who’s buying and selling in their wallet has transactions that must be reported. Every time you use Bitcoin to buy something, you have a taxable transaction requiring you to report the conversion of the crypto into dollars.

Even if you have a net loss, each and every trade must show up on your Schedule D at the end of the year. You also need to keep accounting records to prove your purchase price (basis) and any expenses you incur.

The fact that only 0.2% of users are in compliance has the IRS on the hunt. The Service wants to know about each and every transaction and will make examples of many Coinbase users in 2018. Typical IRS modus operandi is to hang a pelt on the wall in each big city and each State for the press release. Expect the first charges and indictments to be announced around April 10, 2018, just in time for tax filings.

Also, keep in mind that all IRS reporting requirements apply to US Bitcoin transactions. If you pay someone a salary in crypto, you must report it on Form W-2 and withhold the employee’s taxes and pay over federal and state payroll taxes. Doing this will require you to convert from crypto to US dollars, which generates a capital gain.

The same goes for payments to independent contractors. You must file a Form 1099 on any payment of $600 in rents, services (including parts and materials), prizes and awards, or other income payments.

And don’t get your hopes up that Bitcoin in exchange for services will be taxed as a capital gain to the recipient. When you receive crypto for personal services, the coins are magically converted from capital assets to ordinary income in the eyes of the IRS. Thus, you will pay ordinary income tax to the IRS and your state on any Bitcoin earned from work or services.

The last time the IRS was so excited about taking money from it’s citizens was 2008. The Service issued a John Doe summons to offshore bank UBS, just as they did to Coinbase in 2016. When the offshore banking battle was over, the IRS had netted over $10 billion in new taxes, interest, and penalties.

The IRS is really pulling out all the stops in this case. They’ve hired Chainalysis, a provider of Anti-Money Laundering software, to search out Bitcoin users. As reported by Fortune, “In a letter to the IRS, the co-founder of Chainalysis says the company has information on 25 percent of all bitcoin addresses and that it deploys millions of tags to help track and identify transactions.”

The IRS says only 0.2% have reported capital gains on their US tax returns. What should the remaining 99.8% do to minimize risk and tax costs?

If you have unreported crypto gains from 2014 to 2017, you should hire an expert to amend your return. Crypto capital gains are treated like stock transactions, but only a CPA or EA experienced in these transactions is qualified to amend your return.

Amending your returns before the IRS targets you will reduce your risks and penalties. If you’re caught in an audit, expect the full weight of the Service to fall on you.

If you want to maintain some semblance of privacy in your crypto transactions, I suggest you move your coins offshore. Form an offshore LLC, corporation or trust, and open a foreign wallet under that entity. If you need asset protection and estate planning, go with a trust. If you operate a business, use a corporation. Casual investors should form an LLC.

If you’re with Coinbase, you should sell and transfer cash offshore through your bank (a taxable event). If you’re with another firm, you might transfer crypto offshore (usually not taxable).

  • Remember that we’re talking about privacy and asset protection. Moving offshore doesn’t reduce or change your US taxes.  

There are two ways to legally avoid US tax on your Bitcoin transactions. You can invest using a retirement account or you can move to the US territory of Puerto Rico and qualify for Act 22.

If you have a US IRA or 401-K that’s vested, you can form an offshore IRA LLC and move that account offshore. If you’re defined benefit plan can be converted into an IRA, you can also move that offshore. From here you can buy cryptocurrency or any other investment allowed for within the IRA rules.

If you move to the US territory of Puerto Rico, and qualify under Act 22, you will pay zero capital gains tax on your Bitcoin transactions.  Note that this tax deal is only available in Puerto Rico for assets acquired after you become a resident of the territory. It does not apply to your current crypto portfolio.

For more information on Puerto Rico’s unique tax incentive programs, see: A Detailed Analysis of Puerto Rico’s Tax Incentive Programs. Keep in mind that US citizens are taxed on our capital gains no matter where we live. Foreign countries can’t match Puerto Rico’s offer.

I hope you’ve found this article on why the IRS smells blood in the water over Bitcoin to be helpful. Please contact me at to be connected to an expert in amending tax returns with crypto gains or for information on structuring your affairs or your retirement account offshore. 

Best ICO for 2018

The Best ICOs for 2018

The ICO market went on a wild ride for 2017. Over 75% of the ICOs that were funded blew up and hundreds of millions were lost. Here’s where I see the ICO market going and which will be the best ICOs for 2018.

Nearly $2.5 billion has been raised through October in ICOs worldwide, with the majority of that coming in the first half of 2017. Then the US government stepped in to take it’s cut and regulate ICOs. This put most US ICOs on hold and is pushing the market offshore.

There are now 3 ways for US investors to get in on ICOs:

  1. Anyone can buy utility tokens,
  2. Accredited investors can buy equity tokens in the US, and
  3. Anyone can buy in to offshore ICOs.

The SEC has said it will not regulate utility tokens. Thus, anyone can buy these investments and the business need not incur all kinds of legal fees to put the token forward.

A utility or use token is one that gives you a right to use a service or receive a product. For example, if Lyft were to issue a use token, you would receive the right to a certain number of rides in exchange for your cryptocurrency.

The same applies to those selling a product. You give the company cryptocurrency and they promise to give you a product when it becomes available. Invest in a new  high tech suitcase company, they use the crypto to finish and produce their first product, and you get a suitcase at a discount if and when it becomes available.

Use tokens are basically the crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The only difference is that you’re exchanging cryptocurrency for a token. That token entitles you to use the service or receive a product in the future.

Equity tokens differ from use tokens in that they give you a right to some of the company’s future earnings. Equity tokens act like a share of stock in that they give you some level of ownership and control over the company. Rather than a right to use a service or receive a product, you get a right to ownership and a share of the profits.

The US SEC says that, if you issue an equity token, the US government can regulate and control the transaction. As a result, the costs of most ICOs in the United States have increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars in some cases. Only the largest companies can now issue ICOs in America.

Finally, the US government says it’s a crime to sell bitcoin outside of a licensed and regulated exchange. If you sell your coins without an exchange and in such a way that the IRS can’t track and tax the transaction, you’ve committed a crime and can be put in jail.

As a result, Americans are moving their coins offshore and true startups will be forced to issue their ICOs offshore. If American investors want to get in on the ICOs with the most potential, those truly in the beginning stages, then we will need to look abroad from here on out.

Keep in mind that there are no laws that prevent US citizens from buying offshore ICOs. The SEC doesn’t allow foreign ICOs to market into the United States. But, if you can find the right offshore investment, you’re free to deploy your capital as you see fit.

Of course, when you invest offshore, the task of due dilligence – checking out the investment – falls to you. Uncle Sam and a swarm of lawyers have not vetted these transactions. This keeps the costs are lower, opportunities greater, and the need to research falls to you.

With all of that said, I believe the best ICOs for 2018 will be offshore. More specifically, I believe the best ICOs for 2018 will be offshore financial technology companies operating banks or proving unique blockchain services to international financial entities.

As legacy banks fight to keep cryptocurrency from taking over, they’re closing accounts and forcing customers offshore. For example, the US is waging an all out war on cryptocurrency and Hong Kong is closing accounts, putting exchanges out of business.

As in any war, there are winners and losers. The winners in this battle are offshore banks that can efficiently convert from crypto to FIAT. Those with blockchain systems and zero cost transfers are especially interesting.

  • A bank that sends international transfers over blockchain, and avoids SWIFT, can do so with zero or little cost.

Banks that can raise money through an ICO, or have an ICO platform for their clients, will be especially valuable in the near future. The bottom line is that blockchain and cryptocurrency are the future of offshore banking and early adopters are excellent investment opportunities.

If you’re an accredited investor and would like information on offshore crypto banks and FinTech opportunities, you can reach me at I will be happy to introduce you to quality international banks.

If you run an offshore bank, our would like to form a new crypto focused international financial entity, you might find my 300+ page book on the topic helpful. See Offshore Bank License Guide, 2017, available on Amazon Kindle.

Privacy Flag Offshore

Top two max privacy options to plant your flag offshore

The last few months have seen a striking increase in demand for offshore residencies and investments. Americans are looking to diversify out of the dollar, move their assets abroad, and to plant as many foreign flags as possible before the year end. Here are the top two max privacy options for 2018.

Because of the political climate in our country, Americans are renouncing US citizenship at record rates. In the third quarter of this year, 1,376 Americans renounced their US citizenship, putting the annual tally on pace to beat 2016’s record. That’s a 26 percent increase from 2016’s total of 5,411 – which was itself a 26 percent jump from 2015.

Those who are planning on burning their blue passports, want to diversify and create a safety net abroad, or wish to build an escape route and landing spot should things go badly, need to plant as many flags offshore as possible. The hottest offshore plans this quarter are:

  1. A second residency in a low or no tax country that leads to citizenship and a second passport, and
  2. Belize is suddenly the most active real estate market for those seeking personal freedom. This is a very new development and can be summed up in one word – Bitcoin!

Here’s where to get a second passport or second residency and why Belize has become the hottest offshore real estate market out there.

Second Residency Programs

There are two ways to acquire a second passport: you can buy it or you can earn it over time. You can buy a passport from a country like St. Lucia for $125,000 (single applicant) to $300,000 (family). St. Lucia is the lowest cost quality passport for purchase.

If you want a top tier passport, or don’t have an extra $250,000 lying about, you can earn a second passport through residency. Get a residency visa, maintain that visa for 5 or 6 years, and you can apply for citizenship.

The best top tier residency program Portugal. This country’s golden visa program get’s you EU residency, which means you can live and work anywhere in the Union during your residency. You can apply for citizenship and a passport after 6 years of residency.

You can get residency in Portugal by depositing money in a local bank or with the purchase of real estate. The most popular option is to deposit € 1,000,000 into a bank in Portugal (you don’t need to spend or invest it, just hold it in the bank). You can also buy any property for at least € 500,000 and get residency. If you buy a property that’s 30+ years old or located in an “urban renovation” area you need only spend € 350,000.

The best low cost residency program is Panama. If you’re from a “friendly nation,” you can get residency in Panama with an investment of just $20,000. You can then apply for citizenship and a second passport after 5 years of residency.

The investment must be made into one of Panama’s approved reforestation programs and covers the entire family. That is, only one investment is required for a husband, wife, and dependent children 18 years and under. Legal and government fees apply per person.

If you’re not from a friendly nation, the best residency program with a path to citizenship is Nicaragua. Anyone can apply, no matter your country of citizenship and the investment is only $35,000. Legal and government fees are higher than Panama, about $10,000 per person.

The big difference between Panama and Nicaragua is that you must spend 180 days a year in Nicaragua to keep up your residency. Panama does not have a physical presence requirement.

Real Estate in Belize

The Belize real estate market has been on fire for the last 2 months. Belize developers are now allowing buyers to pay 100% of the purchase price and all fees in cryptocurrency. For those looking to get their coins out of the US and away from the IRS, real estate in Belize provides an excellent opportunity to trade Bitcoin and diversify out of cryptocurrency.

Most of the buyers in Belize have been early adopters of Bitcoin. Those with significant gains and a desire to diversify out of cryptocurrency. Belize provides the best, and often the only, way for these investors to exchange coins for property.

The reason Belize and crypto have gone so well together is that Bitcoin’s original business model of privacy and security is what Belize has been about from day 1. Belize is one of the last tax havens standing where personal privacy is a natural right.

As Bitcoin grew, government’s perverted the original intent, but early adopters can still find a libertarian and (nearly) tax free existence in Belize. This country doesn’t tax capital gains and won’t ask you to report your holdings or your transactions.


For the above reasons, the top two max privacy options to plant your flag offshore is a second residency in a low or no tax country and buying real estate in Belize with your appreciated cryptocurrency. Both have seen major increases in demand this quarter and I expect them to do even better in 2018.

If you would like more information on second residencies, second passports, or real estate in Belize, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you to diversify offshore. 

protect your IRA

Protect your IRA by moving it onto the blockchain

The new “offshore” is in the cloud. The new asset protection tool is the blockchain. The best way to protect your IRA is by moving it onto the blockchain and behind and offshore structure. Get your retirement savings out of the United States, on to the cloud, and out of the reach of creditors before it’s too late.

As of today, you can freely move your IRA and other liquid assets out of the United States and behind the protective wall of an offshore structure. But, don’t expect this freedom to last long. As the tax reduction plans of President Trump come through, these loopholes will close.

The US will likely reduce US taxes and then eliminate the ability to retain earnings offshore. When that happens, all manner of regulations and new reporting requirements will be unleashed on offshore accounts. Only those who are already offshore will be spared.

You should be grandfathered in and not required to report the transfer. Also, you should not be required to pay any exit tax or transfer tax as we see with intellectual property transfers under IRC Section 482.

In most cases, the transfer of intellectual property to an offshore entity is a taxable event. The IP must be valued and tax paid on that fair market value as if you had sold it to the foreign entity. We expect this treatment to apply to all types of property in the near future.

To support this position, I note that the IRS has already ruled that cryptocurrency is property and not cash or a cash equivalent. This is why they can tax each and every sale as a capital gain. For more on this, see: Tax on Bitcoin Transactions.

In fact, the US government is all over cryptocurrency. The IRS is taxing transactions as capital gains. At the same time, the SEC claims Bitcoin is a currency and thus it has the right to regulate ICOs as it does IPOs.

You can expect the government to close the door to IRA transfers in the near future. If you want to get your retirement account on the blockchain and out of harm’s way, you’ll need to act quickly.

So, how do you get your IRA offshore? How can you move your IRA onto the blockchain? That’s easy enough.

The first step is to form an offshore IRA LLC in an offshore jurisdiction that 1) maximizes asset protection and privacy, 2) won’t tax your transactions, and 3) allows for single member LLCs. We need all three of these to build a proper retirement account structure.

As a result, the number of jurisdictions is limited. We usually work in Nevis, Belize, Cook Islands, and Seychelles. After 15 years in the industry, these countries are the most reliable.

Second, you likely need to transfer your IRA to a new US custodian. All IRAs require a US custodian, even those invested in cryptocurrency offshore. And the large custodians don’t want you investing offshore. They make money selling you their funds, so they prohibit international transfers.

Third, once your IRA is with a custodian that allows for international transfers, you instruct them to send a wire transfer to your offshore wallet or to your international bank account. If you will invest only in cryptocurrency, you might only need a wallet. If you want to diversify, you  probably need an offshore bank account.

Fourth, once you have your structure, an agreeable custodian, and your offshore company is funded, we install you as the manager. You’re responsible for writing the checks or sending the transfers. You’re in control of the IRA and the account grows based on your investment choices.

And that’s all you need to get your IRA onto the blockchain and out of the reach of governments and civil creditors. A proper offshore structure, a US custodian, a quality international wallet or trading platform, and the documents required to install you as the manager of the account.

I should point out that buying Bitcoin in your retirement account will allow you to avoid US tax on these transactions. If you buy and sell crypto within a ROTH, the trades are tax free. If within a traditional account, they’re tax deferred – you pay US tax as you take distributions.

However, if you buy using leverage, you may still have a taxable event. Whenever you buy and sell in an IRA with a loan or on margin, the gain attributed to that leverage is taxable at ordinary rates.

You can eliminate this tax if you’re offshore, but not if you’re investing in the United States. Offshore traders can set up a UBIT Blocker in addition to their IRA LLC and eliminate UBI on their cryptocurrency trades. For more on this, see: What is UBIT in an IRA?

UBIT blockers a very advanced IRA tool only available offshore. Only sophisticated investors should deploy these structures.

I hope you’ve found this article on moving your IRA onto the blockchain to be helpful. For more on setting up an offshore IRA, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

ICOs in the United States

What SEC Regulation Means to ICOs in the United States

The SEC recently issued a ruling that ICOs must be treated as IPOs. This means that ICOs are now fully regulated by the SEC and that all accredited investor rules apply. But, beyond the new compliance costs, what does this mean for the ICO issuer? What does SEC regulation mean to ICOs in the United States?

The SEC’s position on ICOs is simple. If you’re raising money for a business, and the investor is getting something that behaves like a share of stock, then the SEC has the right to regulate the transaction.

Basically, if the transaction bears any resemblance to a security, the SEC says it has a right to control and regulate. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

Of course this is the SEC’s position. They see billions of dollars being invested without their oversight. A government agency will always try to regulate and interject itself into the industry… they will always choose expand their influence in the name of “protecting investors.” When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

For more on ICO regulation, and how to tell the difference between a crowdsale which is not regulated and an ICO which is regulated, see: Crowdsale vs ICO.

The first shots in this battle were fired by the SEC in July of 2017. In this ruling, the SEC stated that the DAO token was a security and subject to SEC regulation. When you look at the facts and circumstances of this token, it was an easy case. It operated like a share of stock and was an easy target.

The SEC didn’t file criminal or civil charges against DAO. They just used this company as an example of what a security looks like. As a result, DAO was put out of business with the stroke of the pen.

The SEC was waiting for a much juicier and easier case to charge. They found such a soft target on September 28, 2017. According to a statement released Friday, the US government alleges Maksim Zaslavskiy and his two companies, REcoin Group Foundation and DRC World, defrauded investors and sold unregistered securities in two fake ICOs.

I don’t know anything about REcoin or DRC, and I don’t have to. I know that the SEC looked at a ton of potential targets and found the one they thought would be the easiest prosecution. The government searched all the ICOs and found the one they wanted to make an example of.

The SEC followed this up with the creation of a Cyber Unit… of course they did. We Americans need the protection of the US government in our transactions. Without it, we’d lose everything!

The SEC stated that “the Cyber Unit will focus the Enforcement Division’s substantial cyber-related expertise on targeting cyber-related misconduct, such as:

  • Market manipulation schemes involving false information spread through electronic and social media
  • Hacking to obtain material nonpublic information
  • Violations involving distributed ledger technology and initial coin offerings
  • Misconduct perpetrated using the dark web
  • Intrusions into retail brokerage accounts
  • Cyber-related threats to trading platforms and other critical market infrastructure”

The bottom line is that the SEC is going to regulate ICOs as they do IPOs. Any misstatement in your offering documents, or failing to register when necessary, and the government is coming for you.

What does the SEC’s involvement mean for ICOs in the United States?

First, all ICOs will need to go through serious due diligence by legal and accounting experts. This will greatly increase the cost of issuing a token.

Second, only accredited investors will be allowed to buy US ICOs. I can’t imagine anyone will try to register an ICO in today’s climate, so the pool is limited to accredited investors.

In the United States, to be considered an accredited investor, one must have a net worth of at least $1,000,000, excluding the value of one’s primary residence, or have income at least $200,000 each year for the last two years (or $300,000 combined income if married) and have the expectation to make the same amount this year. Most estimates claim that about 10.5% of US households qualify as “accredited.”

Third, US investors will need to hold their tokens for at least 1 year before they are allowed to sell. This rule is what will really crush US ICOs. Once liquidity is removed, and the hope of quick bump in the token or currency is lost, I think many who are attracted to Bitcoin will be turned off from ICOs.

Also, this one year rule doesn’t apply to most other investors. This gives foreign buyers a massive advantage over US buyers, especially in such a volatile market.

Here’s a sample of what you might find in a compliant offering document:


This language is for sample purposes in my article and is not intended as legal advice. Don’t copy it into your document!

Fourth, once the SEC is up in your business, they bring with them many different rules. Issuing a token will not be as simple as putting some language in your document and only accepting accredited investors.

These transactions will now involve compliance with Act 33, Advisers Act and the  Investment Company Act. Moreover, the SEC will assert the right to protect investors. If your business doesn’t go as planned, be sure that the government will be looking to put a few more pelts on its wall to assert its dominance.

As a result of these regulations, I expect only the largest and most traditional ICOs to remain in the United States. The more aggressive tokens, with more risk and more upside, will move offshore. Many jurisdictions are crafting new legislation, and most will be easier to navigate than the United States.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. For more information on moving your business out of the United States, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

IRS Targets Bitcoin

The US Government is Targeting Bitcoin

The US government has launched an all out war on Bitcoin and battles are raging on several fronts. The purpose of this war is to either kill Bitcoin so that the dollar remains dominant or, failing that, to control Bitcoin such that the government maximized taxable income and eliminates your ability to transact in private.

It’s early days yet in the war on Bitcoin. But, the writing’s on the wall. The only way for you to salvage some level of privacy is to move your Bitcoin offshore. Set up an offshore company and hold your crypto account in the name of the company.

Here are the 4 primary lines of attack the US government has on Bitcoin today. You can rest assured that new agencies will jump into the fray once they find a way to take what’s yours.

  1. IRS taxing bitcoin as a capital asset and not a monetary instrument.
  2. The SEC treating bitcoin as cash so they can regulate ICOs.
  3. Applying civil asset forfeiture rules to Bitcoin.
  4. Requiring you to report your Bitcoin every time you enter or exit the United States.

Let’s start with the IRS. The Service recently declared that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are assets, not cash and not currency. This means that, when you exchange Bitcoin for FIAT currency, you must pay tax on the gain.

If you held the Bitcoin for less than a year, you pay short term capital gains tax at your standard rate. This is probably around 35%. If you held the Bitcoin for more than a year, you pay the long term capital gains rate on your profit, which is probably 23.5% (20% if Trump repeals Obamacare taxes). These are the Federal rates and your State will also tax the gain.

Had the IRS classified Bitcoin as a currency, they wouldn’t be able to tax you when you convert Bitcoin to dollars. By calling Bitcoin an asset, the IRS can tax the conversion (or more properly, the sale of the asset).

  • Only currency investments are taxable, such as FX traders, and not basic conversions. That is to say, if you buy foreign currency as an investment, then the gains are taxable.

Then there’s the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If the regulator had determined Bitcoin to be an asset, rather than a cash or cash equivalent, they might not have had jurisdiction to control ICOs. For the reasons why this might have been the case, see: Crowd Sale vs ICO – What’s Legal?

Suffice it to say, if Bitcoin were an asset, all ICOs might have been considered crowd sales and thus outside the purview of the SEC. Of course, this is unacceptable… all investments must be watched over and controlled by our government – so, Bitcoin is cash to the SEC.

To those of us who write on these topics, both of these lines of attack were obvious. Each US agency will define Bitcoin in whatever way allows them to exert control and levy fines to generate more income. That’s the nature of the beast… to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Here’s the regulation of Bitcoin that no one saw coming:

Introduced last month, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017, will force you to report your Bitcoin each time you leave or enter the United States. That’s right, you will be required to fill out a form telling the government how much Bitcoin and cryptocurrency you have each and every time you cross our border.

When I first saw comments on this legislation, I didn’t believe it. I’ve been writing about government overreach since 2000 and still thought this must be an error. It took me days, and a lot of research, to accept that this level of insanity was possible.

When you cross a US border with $10,000 or more in cash or cash equivalents (diamonds, coins, checks, letters of credit, etc), you must report to the government by filling out a form. Of course, filing this form will likely subject you to scrutiny at the airport and unwanted attention from the IRS later.

In most cases, the government has been reasonable in applying this rule. For example, if you’re traveling with collectable coins, you only report if the face value of those coins is over $10,000. So, reporting was generally for those transporting cash and very rarely intruded into the lives of everyday Americans.

The new rules targeting Bitcoin basically allege that cryptocurrency is always with you. Unlike an offshore bank account, where cash is held outside of the US and must be reported once a year, Bitcoin is literally travels with you inside of your laptop. Regulators believe that Bitcoin is stored in your laptop, phone, hard drive, or USB storage device, and is thus crossing the border with you.

This claim that Bitcoin is always with you is key to the government’s attempt to force reporting. If Bitcoin, which is cash or cash equivalent and not an asset in this case, travels with you, the government can force you to report. If it’s cash sitting on the blockchain, and all you have on your laptop are the codes to access that “cash,” no reporting can be required.

That is to say, you don’t need to report how much you have in your bank accounts simply because you’re username and password to access those accounts is stored on the laptop. You can only be required to report what you are physically carrying with you carrying when you cross the border.

And the same law that requires you to report your Bitcoin allows the government to take it from you. Bitcoin will become subject to the asset forfeiture laws. The government can seize your Bitcoin if 1) you fail to report it, or 2) you report it and they believe you obtained it illegally.

Note that I said, they “believe.” The government can take your Bitcoin and then force you to prove how you earned it. The burden of proof falls on you in a civil asset forfeiture case (YouTube video by John Oliver)… and you must be willing to spend big money on lawyers to have any chance of success.

What can you do to protect your Bitcoin?

These are all the ways the US government is targeting Bitcoin. And the only thing you can do to protect your coins is to move them out of the United States and out of the government’s reach. Remember that the US government can seize any cryptocurrency “stored” in a US exchange by issuing a levy or seizure order.

The US government can’t easily seize assets held outside it’s borders. For example, the IRS can levy any bank or brokerage in the US, and any institution that has a branch in the US. So, if you have cash in a bank in Panama, and that bank has a branch in the US, you’re at risk.

The solution is to form an offshore corporation or trust to hold your wallet. Then use only Bitcoin firms located out of the United States… those without ANY ties to the US and can’t be intimidated by Uncle Sam.

The same goes for buying Bitcoin in your retirement account. First, form an offshore IRA LLC. Then move your account into an international bank that doesn’t have a branch in the United States. Then setup an offshore wallet and buy your coins.

I should point out that buying Bitcoin in your IRA is one way to beat the IRS at their own game. Because crypto is an asset, you pay capital gains tax on each and every transaction. However, if you buy Bitcoin in your IRA, you defer or eliminate capital gains tax. Because cryptocurrency is an asset, you can buy and sell it inside an IRA.  For more, see How to move your IRA offshore in 2017.

The fact that Bitcoin is an asset also means you can take advantage of the tax benefits available in the US territory of Puerto Rico. Basically, if you move to Puerto Rico, spend 183 days a year on the island, and qualify for Act 22, all crypto gains on coins acquired after you become a resident will be tax free. See: Move to Puerto Rico and Pay Zero Capital Gains Tax.

I hope you’ve found this article on how the government is targeting Bitcoin to be helpful. For more information on taking your IRA offshore, setting up an asset protection structure, or moving to Puerto Rico, please contact us at or call (619) 483-1708. We’ll be happy to assist you to protect your coins and keep more of those crypto profits.